This Amazing Elephant Ecosystem FAQ absolutely destroyed your Confusion—what you read next will Blow your Mind!

From now on, Every Action you take as a Reader can help an Article “win”—& get Paid.

Ecosystem: the FAQ for Readers & Writers.

The Ecosystem is coming, the Ecosystem is coming!

What? What’s the Ecosystem?

Elephant is a huge independent web site, and…one of the smallest of the big boys (did you know: 6 corporations own 90% of media? Subscribe to read unlimited Elephant here—support indie media!).

But even as a big blog, reaching 23 million monthly unique readers at our peak, our ability to reach you has largely remained subject to the whims of Mr. Mark Zuckerberg. Over the last 5 years, Facebook has in many ways strangled the organic reach of all online media—you know, your ability to see a post you want to read, not just what ad agencies have paid for you to see.

So we’re changing from a big blog…into a teensy platform. For the first time, we’ll be truly independent in our ability to reach you—and to prioritize mission-driven articles over what will get through the Facebook algorithm (This Amazing FAQ absolutely destroyed your Confusion—what you read next will Blow your Mind!).

Reading Elephant will become a sort of game, in a way. Now, when you read any article, you’ll see an Ecosystem Rating—out of 10, like at the Olympics where the judges hold up scorecards. These scores are based on quality, not merely popularity. That’s an improvement. For many years, we’ve paid the most popular writers (good folks, all). Now, we’ll reward writers for quality–as determined by your decision to read, comment, share, and our editor’s picks…which in turn determine an article’s rating. So an article about climate change, permaculture or plastic straws might do as well as something more viral, sexy or controversial.

Now, when you come to Elephant, you can choose to read what readers are loving based on the Rating, or peruse our titles as per usual. Every action you take: a comment, a read, a share, a heart, and eventually a tip (see below FAQ)—will increase the writer’s score and help that issue make our daily Front Page of mindfulness.

Writers who win will get paid by us, and eventually by you. We’ll be able to pay 1,000s of writers, not just a dozen. My hope is nothing less than to foment a grassroots revolution for rescuing writers and journalists, like my dad, from a life without fairly-paid work. And in turn, we’ll all get to have better quality articles to read every day.

The Ecosystem is one part Threadless, one part Reddit, one part Kickstarter, one part journalism, one part Elephant’s longtime Writer Incentives…and entirely up to you.

So read, share, comment—and support what you love with any and every action you take.


A Short FAQ with Half-Baked Answers:

  • Why? To make Elephant independent of Facebook, to promote Quality over Popularity, and to pay Writers.
  • The Ecosystem Rating is simple: your comments, hearts, reads, shares and our Editor’s Pick…all have equal weight (20% each) in determining the Rating of an article.
  • An Editor’s Pick is our in-house way of promoting unsexy but quality content that’s good for you, us, and our planet.
  • To Heart a post, you’ll need a (free) account. It takes one minute to create. Eventually, you can save your favorite articles, recipes, advice; see what you’ve hearted or shared, and share a playlist of articles with friends on Elephant.
  • Readers: every action you take will increase the score of an article.
  • Writers. You can submit a post as per usual, only that post will go live faster—and soon, instantly—into our Now section. Editors will comb through the Now section, then edit and promote their favorite posts into our curated Magazine section, where those posts will be eligible for $$$. It’ll be on you to share your posts with your audience—like a garage band, if you develop a following (through newsletters, DMs, Facebook shares to your profile or business page, twitter, LinkedIn, Next Door…) you’ll likely wind up with a fairly-paid part-time “job” at Elephant as a writer.
  • Oh, Readers: if you hate an article, just close the window and stay away from your laptop. Any loud noise could increase the score of the article.
  • To give money to an author [you’ll need to wait for us to build that in. When we do], you can “tip” an article, helping that issue or author make our Front Page. If it does, it might win.
    Tips: do not go directly to the author, but go into a pool. They do help that author or issue win that pool by increasing the rating. That way we don’t wind up sending 1,000 $1 tips to 1,000 writers (my accountant would kill me). Instead, we send $100, say, to 10 writers. Elephant’s platform takes only 50% of the pool, instead of 90% as bookstores and publishers do with books, now. That 50% goes to pay our editors, staff and servers to maintain this platform that sustains this independent home for writers and readers.
  • “I love/hate the Ecosystem!” We’ve been working on this Ecosystem idea for 8 years, now. We’re small and self-funded, so it’s been slow going—but if you don’t like something, please do tell us and we’ll improve it. This is a work in progress—we expect to tweak this Ecosystem for 100 years.
  • Home Page: our Front Page will now dynamically refresh and change 1,000 times a day, updating based on what’s getting the most love from our readers. So check on the Front Page—it’s where community happens, at Elephant.

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Denise Ferguson Mar 15, 2019 4:26pm

Does anyone know why my ecosystem rating is going up and down? I eagerly shared and watched it move up to 1.3 fairly quickly, only to see it drop back down to 0.7. It then went back up to above 1 and then when I looked back 30 minutes later it had dropped back down to 0.8. I’m like whaaaaaaaaat is happening!

Kim Roberts Feb 6, 2019 2:10am

What a great idea. Go Waylon!

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.